Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Working from Home During a Pandemic: Perspective, Positive, Productive!

Writer friends, it has never been a better time to work from home! When all this COVID-19 stuff hit, my life didn't change all that much. We have been homeschoolers since 2006, and I've been working from home since my first child was born in 2001. Still, there are challenges for me as well. I hope this post helps you keep things in perspective, stay positive, and remain PRODUCTIVE, where you have kids and/or a spouse at home during the time or not!

My family went from 60 to 0 in a matter of days. My husband had been working in Kuwait (non-military) for 7 weeks, and we were ready for him to come back on March 19. However, on March 12 some big changes started happening, and he had to get on a flight fast. So by Friday night we had my husband home on self-quarantine for who knows how long, and you know the rest (everything is cancelled or closed!).

I found myself checking for updates and closings CONSTANTLY instead of using all the glorious free time to do all the things I had always wanted to do as far as writing, organizing, reading, playing games with the kids, going on nature hikes with the family, etc. Instead, the biggest thing on my mind was, "I don't own hand sanitizer but we have enough toilet paper; should I buy more canned goods and why?"

STRUCTURE is important! I am not that mom who has the perfect daily schedule going on, but there is a sort of laid-back structure to our days, meaning after each kids wakes up, they have breakfast and chill before I start the homeschool day. The time might change every day, but it's a routine at least. My family knows lunch is around 1-2 (and we read at the table) and dinner is around 6-7, so we plan everything else around that, including my work.

Now that schools are closing all over the place, you'll want to get some structure/routine going for your kids so you all know that, for instance, from 7-9 every morning it's WORK TIME FOR MOM OR DAD. And that at 7 p.m. dinner is over and the kids can have screen time while you get another couple of hours of work in.

Here's some Help for the Non-Homeschooler!

PLAN your days. I recently got my first Passion Planner and it really helps me stay on track. I try to plan things in 30-minute or 1-hour increments. I write in pencil, though, so I can easily change things, like if the kids are up for an impromptu game of One Night Ultimate Werewolf. Planning includes creating a MEAL PLAN, a HOMESCHOOL PLAN (my kids are older so I can assign them things in Homeschool Tracker and print out a sheet per kid, clipped to a clipboard), and a CHORE CHART. Here's my homemade chore and toothbrushing chart from back in the day. The more independent your kids are, the more you can get done during your work day.

BE UNINFORMED and AT PEACE part of the day. Turn off the news and all social media for a set period of time daily. Checking on your computer, on your television, on your phone, etc. every five minutes doesn't do anything but fuel anxiety and depression. I consider myself to be a very happy person, but this thing has got me depressed just because of all the changes that are happening so quickly. I'm sad for those who are stuck inside, sad for those who are lonely, sad for those who won't have a lot of contact with anyone for quite a while other than getting groceries.

EXERCISE and FRESH AIR. Take a walk with or without your family. Meet up with a neighbor and walk on opposite sides of the street.

READ a book you've been wanting to read for a long time but were too busy to dive into. Read a book to your kids. Check out Read-Aloud Revival! This is a great way to relax your brain and get ideas for writing projects! Same goes for watching a MOVIE. Check out Scribd for a free trial of ebooks and audiobooks. We love the audiobooks for when we're in the car and also bedtime when I'm just too tired to read. It's also a great way for the kids to learn independently while you're trying to work.

Go for a DRIVE. Is there a drive-through open where you can maybe get a quick treat, a soda, something comforting? You went for a walk, so you get some extra comfort calories! (I'm on Weight Watchers, so I'm an expert LOL)

STAY CONNECTED. Get the Marco Polo app and encourage your loved ones to do the same. It's like FaceTime meets messaging. With the time difference from Kuwait to Kansas City being 9 hours, my husband and I used this quite a bit. And with my parents and grandparents being in self-quarantine, it's nice to be able to see their faces when it's convenient for everyone.

BE ALONE. If you're feeling nutty or salty, get out for a drive alone to catch up on Marco Polo messages, listen to podcasts or audiobooks, sing along to loud music, pray, hunt toilet paper.

ORGANIZE. If it makes you feel more in control, set a timer for 30 minutes or an hour and just organize/declutter an area that has been bothering you. Check out my Linen Closet Door Organizer and my Sheet and Pillowcase Storage in a Linen Closet.

REST. Yes, it's okay to rest. You can't work 16 hours a day; it's not healthy (and our health is even more important right now)! I used to feel sooo guilty when I would lay down with some Netflix for half an hour or lay by the pool, but it's perfectly fantastic to take some time off each day to rest body and brain. When you have time to just THINK, some great writing ideas come up! Also, it makes you a nicer, happier person in general.

My hope is that some of these ideas make you feel better (less anxious, more hopeful, better rested), as well as more creative. Stay healthy :-)

*This post contains a referral link for Passion Planner.

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